No high resolution image exists...
Sunflower Farmers Market opened a long-awaited new grocery store in the Land Park neighborhood on Wednesday morning. Over 400 people waited at the entrance for the 7:00 AM ribbon cutting ceremony. The first 200 customers in line received a canvas grocery bag filled with food products. Steve Black, Vice President of Operations for Sunflower Markets, said the earliest customer had arrived at 3:15 AM. Several customers in the line were still wrapped in blankets.
Sunflower Markets is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona and has 37 stores in eight states. The Land Park store is their third store in California and the company is in the process of opening several more in the state this year.
The new store fills a vacant retail space in a small shopping center at the intersections of Land Park Drive, Sutterville Road and Del Rio Road. Previous grocery tenants included the original Cardinal Market in the 1950's, Compton's Market and other grocery outlets. The space has been dormant for nearly four years and at one point, rumors were running strong that Trader Joe's might open a store at the location. Other tenants in the center include La Bou Bakery, Parkside Pharmacy and Macau Restaurant. The building underwent significant reconstruction in preparation for the new market.
The Sunflower Market occupies about 20,000 square feet with 15,000 square feet of selling space. Black said, "This is our smallest store in our company, so it was a little bit of a challenge in that we couldn't get all of our products in here."
Black described some of the different departments in the store. "Produce is the center of our market. Over 25% of our sales are produce. The heart of our business is fresh produce." Another large area is the meat department with a selection of natural and organic meats. Black said, "We do homemade sausages every day. We have butchers in the store so you can come in and get special cuts of meat or if you don't know how to cook a certain cut of meat they can explain it to you."
Other sections of the store include bulk foods, yogurts, and a natural living area with vitamins, supplements and herbs.
Black is especially proud of the coffee products. He said. "We have a coffee director that goes to El Salvador every year. He buys the coffee straight out of the fields." The coffee is then roasted by Sunflower Markets for distribution to the stores.
Black explained that their weekly sales advertisements overlap on Wednesdays so customers can shop two ads on the same day.
Katy Bassett is the store manager and was very excited about the grand opening. She said, "It feels absolutely fantastic. Yesterday we had a soft opening and it was incredible. It was beyond our expectations."
Bassett lives in the Land Park area of Sacramento and has worked in grocery stores for over 20 years. She said they hired about 80 people, with most of them coming from the surrounding neighborhoods in Sacramento. She said, "These are our home-grown Sacramento people." Bassett moved quickly around the store, greeting customers, answering questions and chasing a constant stream of requests broadcast over the loudspeakers.
Lucinda Cox brought her two young daughters to the early opening. Cox lives about two miles from the store and said she has been waiting for a new store to open. She said, "We've been waiting for an organic store with fresh vegetables and fruits. If I miss the farmer's market, I know I can come here." Cox and her daughters weren't quite early enough to earn the free bag of products. She laughed, "We tried, but we weren't in the first 200. I think we were about 210."
Debbie and Steve Fanshier came from Rosemont for the opening. The Fanshier’s arrived at 6:00 AM (96th in line) and have shopped at other Sunflower Markets. Debbie said, "I like organic food, the prices look good and it sounded like something fun to do. We've been to a store similar to it down in the Burbank area. That's where we first became acquainted with them."
As the first wave of customers finished their shopping, the lines began to form at the check-out stands. All registers were operating smoothly and any snags were apparently worked out in the previous day's soft opening.